cover image T IS FOR TERRIBLE


Peter McCarty, . . Holt, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7404-8

McCarty, creator of Hondo and Fabian , crafts an ominous T. rex tale, whose title refers to the word "dinosaur," meaning "terrible lizard." "I do not know why I am so terrible," confesses the hulking narrator, whose smooth blue-gray back is lined with delicate blood-red stripes. When herbivores scatter at his presence, the T. rex frowns with disappointment—but it is unclear whether he is lonesome or peckish. "I cannot help that I grew so enormous and so enormously hungry," he sighs. He expresses poignant misgivings for his appetites but makes no apologies: "If I could, I would be a vegetarian. But I am Tyrannosaurus Rex, and I do not eat trees." Without warning—in a wordless spread that sets all hand-wringing aside—he rampages into the airy green brush with his toothy mouth agape, sending smaller lizards diving for cover. McCarty plays the T. rex's reasoned comments against its bloodlust, creating a sociopathic hero. Older readers could find the first-person perspective troubling, because it makes "I can't help it" seem a valid excuse. The soothing visual style, all ethereal pencil lines and tissue-thin veils of color, enhances the irony too. Dewy white flowers glow as the T. rex crushes them under his clawed, three-toed feet, and the sinuous dinosaur might seem sympathetic if not for those intent beady eyes. Dinosaur-crazed preschoolers will adore the whimsical account of a predator's logic, and McCarty's impressive, diaphanous art helps make up for ambiguities in the narration. Ages 3-6. (Aug.)